Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

frame, a slight, but ungraceful throwing up of the shoulder, on the side which supports the body ; [See Fig. 15;] and in the second' position, it partly withdraws the speaker's body from his audience, by inclining it backward or too much upward, and by erecting the head in the manner of indifference or disregard. [See Fig. 16.]

The influence of this attitude is quite at variance with the speaker's aim in delivery, which is to convince or persuade; the effect of which, on his attitude, would be to incline it somewhat forward, as in the natural manner of earnest address. No error, apparently so slight, is attended with so many bad consequences as this; nothing tends so much to give the speaker the air of speaking at his audience, rather than to them; yet no fault is more common in the declamation of school and college exhibitions. All that is objectionable in this attitude, however, would be done away, by the speaker merely allowing the knee of the leg which does not support the body, to drop into its natural bend.

Other errors in the position of the legs, are involved in the faulty positions and movements of the feet; such as the placing of the legs too close or too widely distant from each other. But whatever was mentioned, on this point, concerning the feet, may be applied by the learner himself, to the placing of the limbs. [See Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.]

Rule. The leg which supports the body, should be firm and braced, but not strained ; and the leg which does not support the body, should bend freely at the knee. (See Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13.]

POSITION AND MOVEMENT OF THE TRUNK. Remarks. The actions of a human being differ from the motions of a machine, chiefly in that sympathy of the entire frame, which makes action appear to proceed from the whole surface, and terminate in the arm, the hand, or the foot. No gesture, therefore, seems to have life or energy, unless the whole body partake in it, by a moderate, yet perceptible swaying or yielding to accommodate it, and a general impulse of the muscles to enforce it, or impart to it additional and sympathetic energy. Gesture, destitute of such aid, becomes narrow, angular, and mechanical. It is of the utmost consequence, then, that the position and general bearing of the body should be free and unconstrained.

The following observations are quoted from the work mentioned before,—Austin's Chironomia.

“The trunk of the body is to be well balanced, and sustained erect upon the supporting limb. Whatever the speaker's position may be, he should present himself, as Quintilian expresses it, æquo pectorewith the breast fully fronting his audience,-and never in the fencing attitude of one side exposed. What Cicero calls the virilis flexus laterum--the manly inclination of the sides, should also be attended to; for, without this position, the body will seem awkward and illbalanced. The inclination of the sides withdraws the upper part of the body from the direction of the sustaining limb, and inclines it the other way, whilst it throws the lower part of the body strongly on the line of the supporting foot. In this position, the figure forms that gentle curve or waving line which painters and statuaries consider as appropriate to grace. [See Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13.]

“The gesture of the arms and hands must receive a slight accompanying movement of the trunk, and not proceed from it as from a rigid log. Whilst care is taken to avoid affected and ridiculous contortions, there must be a manly and free exertion of the muscles of the whole body, the general consent of which, is indispensable to graceful action."

Errors. The faults in the management of the trunk, are the following:

1. A rigid and square position, connected with, and in part proceeding from, errors in the position and movement of the feet and legs. (See 'Errors,' regarding these particulars, and Figs. 4 and 5 in the engravings, already referred to.)

This position lacks the natural yielding or inclination of the sides, and by destroying the sympathetic action of the muscles of the frame, seems to disconnect the arm from the body, causing it to resemble an extraneous object accidentally fastened to the trunk, and producing, in the movements of the arm in gesture, the style of motion exemplified in the actions of an illcontrived automaton, or in the moving of the handle of a pump. [See Fig. 4.]

2. Exposing the side, somewhat as in a fencing posture. [See Fig. 6.]

This attitude gives an unmeaning and offensive force to gestures made in front of the body, and communicates an awkward and painful twist to all gestures which fall in an outward direction. The fault of position now alluded to, arises, sometimes, from the habit of addressing the different portions of an audience separately, and by turns, which is itself a great impropriety, unless on special occasions requiring it. The error arises from the placing of the feet, and in the direction given to them in movement,--pointing the toes straight forward from the speaker's body, in the manner which would be exemplified in the natural attitude of an Indian.

3. Allowing the body to incline too far forward, in a stooping or lounging manner.

This fault takes away all manly dignity and energy from the speaker's appearance, and impairs the general effect of delivery.

4. Keeping the body too erect, and inclining it away from the audience.

The bad effects of this fault were described in connexion with the third’ error in the position of the legs. [See Fig. 16.]

5. A theatrical protruding of the body, with the air of display. [See Fig. 17.]

This fault coincides, in most instances, with the wide position of the feet formerly objected to, as producing an overbearing and swaggering mien.

6. A leaning over to the side on which gesture is made.

This fault presents the speaker very awkwardly to the eye, --somewhat in the manner of figures in the drawings of young children who have not yet acquired a perfect idea of a perpendicular line, and who represent ail objects in a picture as if in the act of falling. The apparent want of security and firmness in this attitude, enfeebles to the eye every action of the speaker's arm. [See Fig. 18.]

RULE. The trunk, or main part of the body, should always be in a firm, but free and graceful posture, exposing the full front, and not the side; avoiding equally rigidity and display, and yielding to every impulse of gesture. [See Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13.]

POSITION AND MOVEMENT OF THE HEAD AND THE COUNTE

NANCE.

Remarks. The bearing of the head decides the general mien of the body, as haughty and condescending, as spiritless, dejected, embarrassed,--or as free from the influence of such feelings, and wearing an easy, self-possessed, and unassuming expression, arising from tranquillity and serenity of mind. The firstmentioned of these states of feeling inclines the head upward; the second causes it to droop, or keeps it fixed by constraint; the last preserves it from these extremes, and allows it an easy and natural motion. The recitation of poetry may, in particular instances, authorize or require a very erect, or a drooping posture of the head; but declamation, or public speaking, implies a state of self-command, a rational consideration of effect, and an avoiding of the appearances of extreme emotion. In the latter exercise, therefore, the general air of the head bespeaks respect for the audience, mingling with a just self-respect, and avoids alike a lofty or a submissive carriage. The eyes and the other features correspond to this manner.

ERRORS in the position of the head are as follows:

1. A distant and lofty, or indifferent'air, throwing back the head, or carrying it too erect. [See Fig. 16.)

This fault is generally unintentional, and arises, in many instances, from an error in the posture of the limbs, as mentioned before.

2. A bashful drooping of the head, accompanied with downcast eyes.

This manner takes away the effect of delivery. As the mind always appears to follow the eye, the speaker's attention seems not to be directed to his audi

ence.

3. The head remaining fixed and still, under the influence of embarrassment and constraint.

This fault is much aggravated, if attended, as it usually is, by a vague wandering, or a motionless abstraction of the eye, and, perhaps, an occasional working of the eyebrows. The effect of these manifestations of uneasiness is, of course, very unfavourable to the influence of the speaker's delivery.

4. An objectionable movement of the muscles of the countenance.

This fault sometimes assumes the form of an unmeaning smile, or an equally unmeaning frown ; sometimes, of too much excited play of the features, with an incessant and inappropriate turning or staring of the eyes, and sometimes, in vehement declamation, an ungraceful protrusion of the lips.

RULE. The head should neither be hung bashfully down, nor carried haughtily erect: it should turn easily

« AnteriorContinuar »